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Jim Clapper Just Nuked the Trump Presidency

Spy bosses are by nature the most tight-lipped of people. Those who head our intelligence agencies got there in no small part by knowing precisely what to say to whom, when. In recent decades, as the heads of Western intelligence have emerged from the shadows and are expected to make occasional public statements, their utterances are customarily vague, requiring extensive tea-leaf analysis to derive their actual meanings.

Even in retirement, spymasters remain habitually enigmatic, and none has been more so than James Clapper, who is our nation’s most experienced spy boss. He retired as the Director of National Intelligence at the beginning of 2017, after over six years in that job—a record. That capped off a career in our Intelligence Community that lasted more than a half-century and included the directorships of two of our nation’s spy agencies. Nobody knows the IC better than Clapper.

While his career had its ups and downs—you don’t work in any trade for over 50 years without missteps—the former far outweighed the latter. Clapper, a retired Air Force three-star general, is widely respected in national security circles, across partisan lines, as a guy who knows his stuff and focuses on the job. Naturally, he’s exceptionally discreet as well.

That changed yesterday, when Clapper went on CNN to drop an unimaginably large bombshell on President Donald Trump. Since the inauguration in January, Clapper has made a few critical comments regarding the president and his strange ties to Moscow, but these have been largely anodyne. Clapper began showing his hand in September, with a comment that the IC assessment of Russian interference in the 2016 election raised questions about why Trump was in the White House: it “cast doubt on the legitimacy of his victory in the election,” he stated.

Read the rest at The Observer …

The Trump-Putin War on American Intelligence Is in Overdrive

In my last column, I criticized the anti-Trump “resistance” for its excessive zeal in exposing Russian espionage, observing that counterintelligence work driven by politics and emotion rather than facts and discipline is bound to go wrong. At worst, we run the risk of a new wave of McCarthyism, with meandering witch-hunts for Kremlin agents (most of them imaginary) instead of serious counterspy efforts.

What’s interesting is that the “resistance” is a movement of the Left and its adherents, with few exceptions, are recent fans of counterespionage. Their interest in Russian spying is driven by Donald Trump and is as intense as it is new. Their enthusiasm for unmasking traitors customarily outpaces their understanding of real-world intelligence operations.

It’s difficult to miss that these are the same people who mocked Mitt Romney only five years ago when the Republican nominee for president presciently opined that Russia constituted our main geopolitical foe—a suggestion that was mocked as old-think by President Barack Obama and his followers.

Moreover, the Left was hardly brimming with anti-Kremlin zeal back in the 1970s and 1980s, when it was mainly the Right, aided by a few stodgy old Democratic Cold Warriors, that signaled the alarm about Soviet espionage and propaganda as a threat to our country and the West. Indeed, for many on the Left, the notion that Moscow was aggressively spying on us was a notion deserving of derision.

How times change. Now the Left is on the enthusiastic hunt for Russian agents, while the Right has transformed itself seemingly overnight from a Romneyian skepticism about the Kremlin to indifference to the threat at best, and at worst a strange and unsettling affection for Vladimir Putin. President Donald Trump is the Republicans’ biggest Kremlin fan, and his reticence to hear anything bad about Russia extends to any classified White House discussions about Kremlin interference in our 2016 election. As a bombshell new report in the Washington Post explains, the president’s Intelligence Community briefers customarily avoid anything to do with Russia in their daily briefing to the commander-in-chief altogether, lest they upset him by saying something bad about Putin.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Mike Flynn Was Always a Fraud

The fall from grace of retired Lieutenant General Mike Flynn is one of the strangest sagas in the annals of America’s military and intelligence services. Just one year ago, his star could hardly have been more ascendant, named as the National Security Advisor to newly-elected President Donald Trump. However, he flamed out of that job in just 24 days, a record. Then, last week, he pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about discussions with top Russians, leaving his reputation is in tatters.

How all this happened will be debated for years as the full saga of the Trump White House’s secret ties to Moscow unfolds and Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation moves forward like a steamroller, slowly crushing all in its wake. Flynn, the military intelligence professional turned felon, will feature prominently in that sordid story. Now that he’s cooperating with Mueller against President Trump, copping per his plea deal to a relatively minor charge that he may serve no jail time for, Flynn’s role has changed, but it’s no less important.

Just how deeply enmeshed Flynn was with the Russians is now coming into focus. Public embarrassments like appearing at the 10th anniversary gala for RT, Moscow’s propaganda network—including sitting at the head table with Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president—were just the tip of the iceberg. That Flynn took Kremlin money for that controversial appearance should have hinted at worse misdeeds.

For instance, Flynn was lobbying for Russian interests, including lucrative nuclear power deals around the world. This is hardly a normal retirement job for pensioned U.S. Army generals. It now appears Flynn was involved with this while serving as Trump’s national security consigliere. He’s reported to have texted a business colleague that a big nuclear deal was “good to go,” meaning Flynn could now get sanctions lifted off Russia, in the middle of Trump’s inaugural address last January.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Does John Conyers Know Who Murdered Chandra Levy?

This week Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House of Representatives, besieged by allegations of sexual misconduct, announced he is stepping down from the seat he has occupied for 50 years. Suggesting that his Detroit seat should pass to his son in dynastic fashion, the Michigan Democrat ends his public career under a cloud that shows no signs of lifting.

Multiple women have come forward with similar accounts of Conyers using his House position to run a harem of sorts for decades. With his resignation, the 88-year-old congressman cuts short inquiries into his rumored misdeeds in office. Some stories now appearing are alarming, none more than that proffered by Courtney Moore, now 36, who claimed that she was a 20-year-old college student when Conyers propositioned her for sex.

When Moore rejected his advances, she states, Conyers brought up the then-current case of Chandra Levy, a Washington, D.C., intern who disappeared mysteriously in the summer of 2001. “He said he had insider information on the case. I don’t know if he meant it to be threatening,” she told the Washington Post, “but I took it that way. I got out of the car and ran.”

The sensational Levy case was the talk of the town in our nation’s capital back in mid-2001, dominating local headlines in that long, last summer before jihadists took down the Twin Towers and America commenced its seemingly endless War on Terrorism. Chandra Levy, a pretty young intern, became a sensation after her disappearance. She belongs to a now-vanished age in Washington, swept away by 9/11, and her case remains as mysterious as on the day she disappeared: May 1, 2001.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Russia Conducts Nuclear Exercises Amid Orthodox End-Times Talk

One of the more interesting aspects of Cold War 2.0 is the ideological struggle between the postmodern West and Russia—a struggle that most Westerners deny even exists. President Barack Obama, after Moscow seized Crimea in early 2014, pronounced that there was nothing big afoot: “After all, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia leads no bloc of nations, no global ideology.”

Obama’s statement was wrong then, and it’s even more wrong now. As I’ve explained, there is an undeniable ideological struggle between Vladimir Putin’s neo-traditionalist Russia and the post-modern West—one that prominent Russians talk about all the time. In the Kremlin’s imagination, this fight pits the godless, materialistic, doomed 21st century West, too lazy to even reproduce, against a tough, reborn Russia that was forged in the murderous fire of 74 years of Bolshevism.

The yawning gap between Russian and Western values can be partly explained by the fact that Communism shielded the former from the West’s vast cultural shifts since the 1960s. Living under the Old Left provided protection against the New Left. As a result, Russians are living in our past and find current Western ways incomprehensible and even contemptible.

Take the reaction to America’s present panic about sexual harassment, which is felling celebrities and politicians left and right. In Moscow, this looks like madness, punishing powerful men for doing what powerful men have always done. Their late-night TV uses our sex panic as a punchline, proof that Americans are weak and feminized, held hostage to radical ideology. Andrei Konchalovsky, one of Russia’s top film directors (including some Hollywood hits), expressed his view plainly: “Thank God we live in a country where political correctness has not reached the point of absurdity.”

Read the rest at The Observer …

The Real Conyers Scandal Has Nothing to Do With Sex

Our national panic regarding sexual harassment of women by powerful men has claimed its first scalp in the nation’s capital. As of now, Minnesota Democrat Al Franken is staying in the Senate, some embarrassing incidents notwithstanding, while Alabama Republican Roy Moore may get there yet, despite multiple reports of his dalliances with underage girls. Of course, the grabber-in-chief in the White House shows no signs of going anywhere either, at least until even worse videotapes appear.

Michigan Democrat John Conyers, however, has taken a direct hit and has stepped down from his House leadership roles, including as the ranking member of the powerful Judiciary Committee, in the wake of press reports which depict him as a serial harasser and worse. This is a stunning fall for the 27-term Congressman, at present the House of Representatives’ longest-serving member, who has been prominent on his party’s left wing for more than a half-century.

In other words, the 88-year-old Conyers is no average member of Congress. The results of the House Ethics Committee investigation of his relations with female staffers are not yet in, and let it be said that all Americans are innocent until proven guilty. However, the allegations against Conyers, if true, portray the esteemed veteran of the civil rights movement in a troubling light. For now, he’s professing his innocence and standing his ground, indicating he has no intention of resigning from the House, where he has served since 1965.

His defenders cite that the elderly Conyers grew up in a profoundly different age, and that he has not adapted to current sensitivities about sexual matters. That said, it probably didn’t help him that yesterday Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, brushed off allegations against Conyers with the statement that he “is an icon in our country.” The implication that there are different rules for icons didn’t sit well with some Americans—after all, Bill Cosby was a national icon too, until recently—and Pelosi’s soundbite seems certain to feature in Republican ads next year in advance of the midterm election.

Read the rest at The Observer …

Jihadist Horror in Egypt

The Sinai Peninsula has never seen anything like it. Yesterday, on the main highway to Gaza, outside the town of Bir al-Abed, murderers approached the al-Rawda mosque with massacre on their minds. It was toward the end of Friday prayers, just after midday.

A bomb shattered the serenity of prayer, then 25 to 30 killers disgorged from five off-road vehicles and began to rake the mosque with machine gun fire. They blocked doors and windows and poured fire inside. They threw grenades into the ranks of defenseless worshippers. There was considerable planning involved, and the terrorists torched several cars parked outside the mosque to block escape routes from the massacre.

When ambulances began arriving to aid victims, the gunmen shot at them, too. Only when the terrorists fled the scene could emergency workers tend to the victims—and there were hundreds of them. It took many hours to arrive at an accurate casualty count, given the chaos. According to Egyptian authorities, this terrible attack killed 305 innocents—27 of them children—and injured 128. This is the bloodiest terrorist strike in Egypt’s history, which isn’t exactly short on mass violence, especially by Islamist radicals.

The gunmen are widely believed to be followers of the Islamic State, which has put down deep roots in Sinai. Although there have been no claims of responsibility to-date, survivors report that the killers brandished the trademark black flag of jihad, an IS symbol. Some of the terrorists were masked, while others eschewed the usual IS get-up of long hair with thick beards—they looked like professional killers, clad in black t-shirts and camouflage-print trousers.

Read the rest at The Observer …